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Roundabout coming for contentious intersection in Port Alberni

Transportation ministry says River Road, Beaver Creek Road intersection solution is coming
Turning left onto River Road (Highway 4) from Beaver Creek Road, or out of Clutesi Haven Marina, can be difficult in the busy summer months. (AV NEWS FILE PHOTO)

The province says that Port Alberni will be getting a roundabout at the intersection of Beaver Creek Road and River Road within the next few years.

Representatives from the provincial Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) told Port Alberni city council that the existing intersection is expected to be replaced with a roundabout. River Road is part of the provincial Highway 4, and summer traffic often leads to a backlog of cars at the Beaver Creek Road intersection.

“Everyone knows this intersection has been a safety issue for a very long time,” said Mike Pearson, MOTI director for Vancouver Island District, during a committee of the whole meeting on Monday, March 4.

READ MORE: Upgrade on the books for contentious intersection in Port Alberni

Pearson said the province is working with city staff, as well as Tseshaht and Hupacasath First Nations, on a design for the roundabout. A “detailed” design will be completed this year and the province also plans to hold a public engagement session in 2024. There are “tentative” plans to begin construction in 2025, although this is dependent on funding.

Port Alberni councillor Debbie Haggard admitted that although she doesn’t like roundabouts, there is “no other alternative” for that intersection.

“A light just wouldn’t work,” she said.

Mayor Sharie Minions agreed that a roundabout is “going to take some getting used to” in Port Alberni.

Pearson also told council on Monday that the province is looking at options to improve pedestrian safety on lower Johnston Road, although more data still needs to be collected with the help of the city’s planning department.

“We know there have been a lot of issues with these crosswalks,” said Pearson. “Not only in recent years, but in the last week or two,” he added, referring to a pedestrian who was struck in the intersection of Johnston Road and Margaret Street just last week on Feb. 28.

“I think we’re all, in this room, aware of some really unfortunate incidents that have happened on lower Johnston Road,” said Minions. “You’re basically crossing a highway, and people drive like it’s a highway.”

She added that she would like to see some “short-term” safety improvements while the province is working on a bigger plan, which includes things like lighting and signage. Pearson agreed that the province would talk to city staff about some short-term improvements.

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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